December 1, 2016 (Fault Lines) — No doubt, the government has all the power. The power to bring criminal charges. The power to hide evidence. The power to help out a friend. The power to forge, tap, and pursue love interests. And Brooklyn prosecutor Tara Lenich certainly exercised her power to the fullest.
With the power to eavesdrop on the most intimate of conversations, Lenich utilized her full prosecutorial authority to initiate wiretaps on Detective Lemieux’s cell phone and the cell phone of a fellow prosecutor. The taps included both telephonic and electronic communications which were captured and reviewed by Lenich using the office of district attorney as her personal spy agency. Phone calls, texts, photos, emails; all the good stuff.
Lenich forged at least two judges’ signatures on court orders for two cellphones, showed them to Verizon and AT&T between June 2015 and November 2016 and took those court orders to a wireroom inside the DA’s office where the eavesdropping was conducted, according to sources and court records.
While it is unclear whether Lenich and Detective Jarrett Lemieux had an intimate relationship or whether Lenich was simply stalking Lemieux, at least one law enforcement official described a “personal entanglement between her and the detective.” Of course, Lenich styled her surveillance as part of a secret investigation on behalf of the New York Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. In either event, her plot had all the makings of a love triangle gone bad: two prosecutors and a cop. (As if that’s a story we’ve never heard before, but I digress.)
Well, at least she was correct in one aspect: this was supposed to be a secret investigation. No one was supposed to know about the married cop. No one was supposed to know she was illegally tapping his phone, as well as a colleague’s. No one else was supposed to review the taps. And apparently, had the taps not lasted quite so long, no one would have been the wiser.
Another staffer felt that something was fishy about the wiretap investigation because it lasted longer than a year. That staffer went to their supervisor, who consulted with William Schaeffer, the chief of the investigations division, and Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, sources said.
Neither Schaeffer nor Gonzalez were aware of the “secret investigation” Lenich was supposedly assigned to.
Forging judicial signatures was not the only problem. Getting access to the “wire” required the use of her office – and the wireroom. The equipment necessary to trap and record or listen to the conversations isn’t available on just any corner. It takes knowledge and power. It generally takes the cooperation of a law enforcement agency, like the District Attorney’s Office.
In order for a wiretap to get executed it must be approved by the district attorney or the chief assistant district attorney, sources said.
Though neither approved these wiretap executions, being an insider, Lenich was able to convince lower level ADAs and investigators that she was spearheading a secret investigation. Ah yes, the power of the prosecutor and all the tools necessary to pull it off. The power to actually execute forged orders. Any common criminal can forge a document. But, it takes the power of government to execute that forged order and intercept personal and private communications.
But have no fear:
Sources said there’s no immediate reason to question the integrity of any of the legitimate cases Lenich handled for the district attorney’s office.
Of course not, there’s no reason to think that a prosecutor capable of forgery and deceit would have used those traits in her professional career. Those skills are reserved purely for personal matters. After all, prosecutors are sworn officials who take their professional oaths seriously. Nonetheless, the district attorney’s office has undertaken reviews of both their internal protocols and procedures as well as her prosecutorial cases.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said the office had “ordered a comprehensive review of our protocols and procedures to make sure that this abuse of authority never happens again.”
“We have no reason to believe at this time that any of our investigations have been compromised as all of her cases went through an appropriate supervisory process and judicial authorization, but we have nevertheless commenced an internal review,” the spokesman continued.
Well, we’ll just have to wait and see if Lenich successfully kept her personal and professional lives un-intertwined. Oh wait, she met Detective Lemieux through her professional career; surely that’s just a coincidence.
Lenich had enjoyed the respect of the defense bar. She was reportedly well known and well liked, with a reputation for fairness and professionalism. Now, Lenich faces a myriad of criminal charges: 20 counts of possession of a forged instrument based on the number of court orders to continue the charade over more than a year and two counts of eavesdropping – which could have easily encompassed more counts.